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Wednesday February 21, 2024

China expects fresh consumption record with 9b trips in world's largest migration

China sets the stage for an extraordinary year of growth and prosperity with 9 billion passenger trips in this holiday season

By Web Desk
January 26, 2024
Travelers at the Hongqiao Railway Station ahead of Lunar New Year in Shanghai, on Jan. 23. — Bloomberg
Travelers at the Hongqiao Railway Station ahead of Lunar New Year in Shanghai, on Jan. 23. — Bloomberg

China is anticipating a fresh consumption record as it braces for the world's largest annual human migration. 

The upcoming Spring Festival travel rush, known as chunyun, is set to witness a staggering 9 billion passenger trips, painting a vivid picture of vibrant economic activity and cultural celebrations.

As the migration unfolds, scenes of crowded departure halls at Beijing Capital International Airport and the lively atmosphere in markets nationwide set the stage for a bustling Chinese New Year. Amidst this frenzy, the country is poised to experience not only a record-breaking migration but also a surge in consumption that promises to leave a lasting impact on its economic landscape.

The stories emerging from the travel rush are a testament to the intertwined relationship between migration and economic vitality. From a retired white-collar worker's self-driving road trip in Hainan Province to the agreement between China and Singapore for mutual visa exemption, all signs point to a flourishing travel industry. 

Searches for Singapore hotels on Qunar.com have quadrupled, reflecting the enthusiasm generated by the visa-free policy announcement.

This record-high migration is not confined to specific modes of transportation; instead, it encompasses a diverse range, including rail, road, aviation, and water. Self-driving trips are expected to claim a significant share, highlighting China's advancements in transportation infrastructure.

In the lead-up to the festivities, China's railway system has experienced a surge in ticket sales, with 61.08 million tickets for chunyun sold since January 12—a remarkable year-on-year increase of 159 percent. Domestic carriers, such as Air China, are taking proactive measures, planning 67,691 flights during the 40-day travel peak to accommodate the influx of passengers.

Beyond the immediate travel scenario, the impact of this migration is projected to extend into the economic fabric of the nation. Consumption, a driving force behind China's economic growth in 2023, is poised to set new records. The recently released GDP data from various Chinese provinces and cities showcase remarkable achievements, providing a solid foundation for optimistic economic expectations in 2024.

Experts highlight the continuous upgrading of China's consumption structure, with culture-infused tourism playing a pivotal role. The services industry, particularly the growth of retail sales and the catering sector, has become a cornerstone of economic expansion.

As holiday consumption takes centre stage, projections suggest that GDP growth for the first quarter of 2024 could surpass initial estimates. If the growth rate exceeds 5.2 percent and approaches 5.5 percent, China could outperform predictions by foreign institutions, showcasing the resilience and dynamism of the world's second-largest economy.